The Norman Police Department recently hired 12 new cadets at the start of its 59th academy.
Lt. Lee McWhorter said 11 of the cadets started attending training classes April 5, and one man is now in field training because he was hired from the University of Oklahoma Police Department and previously went through NPD’s academy.
Capt. Brent Barbour said this year’s academy is unique because NPD typically hosts a traditional academy of new recruits, or a lateral academy, where people are hired from other departments. This year, the academy was a combination of the two.
McWhorter, who oversees the academy and training, said the academy will last 27 weeks, then cadets will undergo 16 weeks of field training throughout all three patrol shifts.
McWhorter said the cadets cover a wide range of ages, backgrounds and experience. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, face masks have become standard equipment, classrooms have been rearranged to allow for social distancing and physical training is completed outdoors.
McWhorter said NPD’s training program exceeds the minimum standards set forth by the Oklahoma Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training.
Courses include the following: criminal law, de-escalation training, firearms training, police vehicle operations, patrol procedures and tactics, community policing, racial intelligence training and engagement, investigative techniques, human relations, cultural awareness, diversity training, standard operating procedures, collision investigation, custody and control and physical fitness.
Cadets receive full salaries and benefits while attending the academy, and all uniforms and equipment are provided.
McWhorter said the most important lessons cadets can learn are how to think clearly and rationally under pressure.
“Our cadets can expect some of the highest level training offered in the state. Police training cannot simply be about driving, shooting and defensive tactics. Our officers have to be able to make articulable, well-educated and defendable decisions under pressure,” he said. “We have also increased both our mental health and cultural awareness training. We are constantly evaluating and adjusting our instruction to meet both industry standards and the needs, as well as voices of our community.”